LEADING ARTICLE : A 'project' for Labour

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE FOLLOWING document has fallen into our hands. Headed "A Project for Labour" and written by a party well-wisher, it was found in Tony Blair's wastebin. By using numbered paragraphs (in the style of Philip Gould's leaked strategy and organisation plan), the writer had hoped that Mr Blair would pay attention.

1.0 Message.

1.1 Make it simple, direct and hard-hitting. Try to stop your frontbench team looking as if they expect the bogeyman to get them every time they have to give a straight answer.

1.2 Remember that you are trying to impress ordinary voters, not City businessmen or chattering newspaper columnists. This means that you don't have to worry, for example, about sounding inflationary. Most homeowners would give their right arms for a heavy burst of inflation.

1.3 If you don't have a slogan that you dare to make public, try keeping one in your head, so that you and your colleagues look and sound as if you want to do more than get your hands on the chauffeur-driven cars. What about "government of the people, by the people, for the people"? It served Abraham Lincoln rather well and perfectly summarises how you can be different from the Tories, whose rule seems designed purely to propagate a tired (and tiresome) ideology and to line the pockets of themselves and their friends.

2.0 Policies.

2.1 You will do everything you can to protect job security. People will still lose jobs under a Labour government, of course. But the Tories have never quite grasped that people don't actually enjoy losing them, even when told it is in the service of the global market. The professional middle-classes, in particular, are terrified; sound as if you are on their side. Point out that signing the European social chapter will help job protection.

2.2 You will introduce a national minimum wage. For Heaven's sake, fix a figure before the election, otherwise people will think you don't mean it. Even pounds 2.50 an hour would help about 1 million employees. Tell them to vote Labour for a pay rise. Tell other people that a minimum wage will allow you to take thousands who are in work out of benefits such as family credit. This will enable you to cut the annual pounds 2.4bn bill for such benefits.

2.3 You will invest in the important public services: education, health and transport. Do not bother debating the merits of opted-out schools, the NHS market or the minutiae of privatisation. Nobody cares. Voters want smaller classes, shorter waiting times for operations and trains that run on time.

2.4 When necessary, you will increase taxation. The Tories will say you are going to do it anyway, so be honest and explain that, unlike them, you will do it fairly, raising taxes on higher incomes rather than on fuel or other essential spending. People will tolerate higher taxes if they go on services such as schools and hospitals. Emphasize that one person's tax cut often becomes the same person's bill for school fees or private health insurance.

2.5 You will be as unpleasant as you possibly can to the bosses of the privatised utilities. They have long ago overtaken the unions as a focus of national unpopularity and exasperation. Say that the utilities will be required to hold public hearings on price rises, service standards, profits and top salaries. Say that a new competition regulator will actively seek out abuses of monopoly power and act speedily to end them.

2.6 You will give government back to the people, by getting rid of unelected quangos, by restoring powers to local councils (but requiring them to set up powerful complaints offices), by setting up a Scottish Parliament and by limiting MPs' outside earnings.

3.0 Strategy.

3.1 Concentrate on the above six policies (most of which are yours anyway) and refuse to get drawn into debates on Europe and other matters that bore the public.

3.2 Ignore those who talk about "unitary command structures" and who think "renewal" is a word likely to send blood coursing through the voters' veins. Listen instead to people who care about Labour policies, and want to make Britain a better country.